The Writer’s Room pilot project was co-designed by myself, on behalf of the ETA, and Karolina Novak, Education Program Producer at MAAS, to coincide with This is a Voice. Following similar activities to the Writing Teachers workshop students took part in a four hour day of viewing and engaging with the exhibition, writing, sharing and collaboratively creating poetry and prose.
Probably the most difficult aspect was quickly organising an excursion at the end of the year – we managed to attend on the second last Monday. It was a wonderful experience to share This is a Voice with students who were surprised at the style of the exhibition, the range of installations, artworks and items on display. Though some students, ranging from Year 7 through to Year 10, were familiar with the Powerhouse museum, for many it was their first visit. One or two had never taken a train to Sydney before. Several were deeply appreciative of the learning opportunity, though as usual, several were unwilling to provide hard copies of there work after the event.
Our group of 21 students and two teachers conveniently broke into three smaller groups and were introduced to This is a Voice by willing volunteers who began their journey through the exhibits at different places. Each group initially focused on three specific pieces which allowed for rich sharing after lunch when we convened to write. Students were then free to wander through the five different sections and gather words and ideas.
Students were encouraged to take photos (without flash) and work alone or in small groups.
After lunch, we were escorted through the ‘back’ building which comprised working space for future planning and exhibit construction. This was an unexpected look ‘behind the scenes’ and required us to be issued with security passes. We were lead up and around the site, giving us a spectacular view.
Our writing space was regularly used by MAAS employees and was brightly decorated with thoughts and plans for the future – quite inspiring. It offered separation for each group to discuss and share before we read and added to the different drafts throughout the space.
I am fortunate to have a minor elective Creative Writing and Publishing class in Stage 5 next year. We will be regularly publishing zines, and our first issue will feature pieces from our day at This is a Voice.
Plans are afoot for more Writer’s Room opportunities in 2018.